Gen Z: Radicalism vs. Capitalism





Written by Bella Filips

Growing up with almost exclusively my white side of the family made it hard for me to connect with other Indigenous people -- even my own relatives. My dad's family are all German immigrants who came here in the 20s and my Indigenous mom has lived in England for 14 years now. As I became more independent in High school and College, I started to connect with other Indigenous people and still felt very isolated. Online, I found many people who were burgeoning young activists. As I learned more about issues that different marginalized groups faced. I started to realize many of these issues rooted from capitalism and colonialism. Meanwhile, I lived half of my life in capitalist hell (which is America) with my dad, and the other part of my life in Europe with my mom – in which many people think Native Americans no longer exist, if they even know what a Native American is to begin with. 

Furthermore, I see people nowadays who seem to want to push aside the topic of economics and how it influences policymaking. While I have no interest much in the corporate and monetary styles of economics, I find myself fascinated by those systems themselves; how things so overarching can be so apparent yet invisible in our day-to-day life. I can’t help but think about our everyday lives in relation to our life under capitalism.

Capitalism has had a great effect on my life, and yet has radicalized me. I am privileged to have the life I do, and I say that not to brag, but to be humbled by that fact. I have lived parts of my life in Europe, and I have been a part of collectivist societies who have been able to enact such insurmountable beasts such as free healthcare, free education, and human empathy. That isn’t to say I wasn’t aware of these parts of society entirely on my own.

My mother has and still is a teacher to me in billions of ways. Because of the pandemic, I have been away from her since winter break in 2019. However, seeing her do so well in her education, her career and her passions even so far from her home makes me incredibly happy. She is an activist and gives talks all around Europe on Indigenous issues. She has also spearheaded movements to rename sports teams with racist names or characterizations of our people.

As it stands though, she didn’t get where she is, and me where I am, without having to play into the society that entraps BIPOC. I am proud of doing well in school, nearly ready to graduate with my Bachelor’s in Social Work. I am proud of her education where she is now pursuing her master’s at Oxford while balancing being a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, a mom, and a wife. It can be bittersweet, knowing that education and so many other aspects of society have been weaponized against Indigenous people. Even beyond that, living so much of our lives in the UK takes a toll. It’s where Matoaka, our first missing and murdered sister was stolen and brought to, where some of the most heinous acts of imperialism were born and where to the public, we don’t even exist. Now on the land that was once ours, lush with flora and fauna, tender enough to support generations of people as fragile as humans are, we see the continuation of a society that was apathetic towards us at best and (more likely) wanted us dead at worst.

Our society -- the structures within it -- continue to play out the ideological dogma of a time where Black, Brown, and Indigenous people were nothing to those in power. Unluckily for them, our ancestors were here thousands of years before European imperialism reared its ugly head. The society they built over the land our ancestors gave to us was sewn by capitalists who sought profit. That society expanded until we got to where we are today, close to imploding against the impassible walls created by late-stage capitalism. Yet people refuse to admit to the faults our perfect free market, built-on-slavery-imperialist country has. It’s the Democrats’ fault, the Republicans’ fault. It’s totally not the fault of from how our country is structured and colonized.

I continue to look to other activists and their writings to empower myself as an anti-capitalist Indigenous woman. I still get weird looks when I tell people my honest thoughts about politics and our society. I don’t like a single politician. I think Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. I’m sick to death of extreme profit “free” market American capitalism that has historically been used against poor, brown countries to justify our own imperialism. Not to mention the imperialism Native American people face here. As Native American people, we have the biggest reason to be anti-capitalist, and yet it can be quite taboo. Before colonizers arrived, many tribes were collectivist societies worried about how the actions of today may impact tomorrow. I want to have a society where people care less about individual rights and more about humanity. It’s not just me, either. Whole populations are getting fed up and I truly think it’s time to start looking at new ways to handle our society. Post-pandemic normalcy was not the answer.

I write this in hopes of normalizing anti-capitalism in some way for others in my generation. Reading, protesting, asking questions – please continue to do so; start if you haven’t. They don’t teach you how to organize in school. It’s our jobs to learn on our own. Elites won’t teach you how to topple them. Unfortunately, there are new events happening every day that radicalize more people. It’s our fight to continue every day until we have genuine power against the colonialists around the world. Activism doesn’t end after one resolution.